This ‘wine mom’ never questioned her drinking. Then she stopped for a month.


It all started with a news release. As a journalist, I get multiple pitches a day: “Best and Worst Cities for Healthy Dogs,” “Why the Buzz about Glutathione?” and, sit down for this one, the opportunity to talk to the founder of Parting Stone, a start-up that turns the ashes of loved ones into smooth rocks and pebbles (40 to 60 of them).

But this email, from Dry Together, really got my attention. Despite sounding like a communal bathhouse, Dry Together is an online hamlet for midlife moms who are seeking ways to cope — with work, with family, with life — that don’t involve a tumbler of alcohol. Founders and former college roommates Holly Sprague and Megan Barnes Zesati, who are both nondrinkers, were inviting women ages 35 to 60 to participate in their second annual Dry January challenge, which would include, among other avenues of support, a weekly one-hour Zoom get-together facilitated by Sprague and Barnes Zesati. “A month without alcohol is sometimes just what moms need in order to do some fine tuning in the areas where they feel stuck,” read their news release.

D.C.-based therapist Susan Berlin went a step further. Sober now for 33 years, Berlin strongly believes that taking a month off from drinking doesn’t really address what’s going on underneath and that, in general, Dry Januarys just peel away the outer layer of the onion. “Initially, you only know the ‘whys’ of drinking,” she explained, reminding me of the question we discussed at the first Zoom meeting. Deep down, Berlin said, resides the true reason we turn to alcohol…

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